Tuesday, December 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India

C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Docs ask morning patients to ‘fill’ evening OPDs
Tribune News Service

An empty waiting hall outside the Internal Medicine and Surgery Departments, shows that hardly any patients turned up on the opening day of the evening OPDs in the PGI,
An empty waiting hall outside the Internal Medicine and Surgery Departments, shows that hardly any patients turned up on the opening day of the evening OPDs in the PGI,
Chandigarh, on Monday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, December 2
The much-hyped evening OPDs at the PGI got off to a shaky start today, with 33 patients, majority of whom had specifically been asked by doctors in the morning to come back at 5 pm, being examined by a handful of consultants with the entire show on the opening day being wrapped up within an hour’s time.

The evening OPDs, which the PGI Director, Prof S.K. Sharma is himself terming as an experimental screening one, appeared to be more of a cosmetic facility with no investigations being done and a majority of evening patients being asked to come back in the morning for tests.

‘‘Even though we arrived at the PGI at 10.30 a.m for getting my wife’s eyes examined, we were told to come back at 5 p.m and ever since we have been waiting, with my wife, Madhuraj writhing in pain,’’ remarked Mr Rakesh Kumar Sharma, an advocate from Bulandshehar in Uttar Pradesh.

Majority of the patients in the Ophthalmology and Gynaecology Departments, too, had been asked by doctors at this morning’s OPD to come back for examination in the evening, fearing that attendance would be very thin as the public had not been informed about it. Some of the patients who had come from Rajpura near Patiala and Raipur Rani in Haryana, were made to wait till 5 p.m. ‘‘ Our apprehension is that now doctors might ask people in the morning OPDs to come in the evening to reduce their burden,’’ admitted one of the senior doctor on duty.

All six patients who came to the Internal Medicine Department, got free in no time as in the absence of investigations being done, the doctors asked them to get the tests done and come back later. The number of patients who came today included four in surgery, seven each in Gynaecology and Ophthalmology, four in ENT and five in Paediatrics. A college-going girl, who had come with some eye problem was asked to consult a neurologist, but in the absence of evening OPD facility in this faculty she was left with no option but to return tomorrow morning.

In the absence of the 20 resident doctors, who had been put on evening OPDs’ duty, failing to turn up, it was the dozen-odd consultants who were holding the fort to enable the starting of the facility on the date chosen by the Union Health Minister, Mr Shatrughan Sinha, despite all odds. With a very few patients turning up on the first day all doctors had left by 6. 15 p.m., as registration was open only till 6 p.m.

‘‘We have been able to start the screening evening OPDs only with the help of the faculty members and though we wanted to provide other facilities like investigations as well but with the existing infrastructure and staff strength it would not be possible,’’ said Professor Sharma, while talking to mediapersons. When asked if he would talk to the resident doctors who had boycotted evening OPDs, he said they were aware of the situation and his doors were always open for them. He added that they might face some difficulty in running the evening OPDs but he had written to the Health Minister, apprising him of the situation.

The 12 doctors from the faculty who were on duty, said that if the number of patients at evening OPDs increased, which was bound to happen, it would not be possible for them to continue without the help of the resident doctors, who, they said, were the backbone of the institute.


  • With a majority of the patients stating that they were specifically asked to come back for examination in the evening, it was evident that the authorities had laboured hard to ensure that the first day of the evening OPDs did not prove to be a damp squib, as hardly any efforts had been made towards informing the public about it.
  • As the PGI Director, Prof S.K. Sharma, accompanied by senior officials and doctors arrived at the New OPD Block at 5 p.m, resident doctors in small groups hovered around the venue, anxious to know the fate of evening OPDs.
  • ‘‘It feels good to know that atleast there is unity among the resident doctors, if not in the faculty and now they are only trump cards,’’ remarked a senior doctor, justifying the stand of the resident doctors, who had boycotted evening OPDs.
  • ‘‘We are only fulfilling the whims and fancies of a man (Shatrughan Sinha), who lives in a make-believe world,’’ remarked a doctor on duty. He added that it was mockery of the medical profession as they were befooling the people when there was very little they could offer.
  • As if the sentiments echoed by doctors, who were seen strolling in the empty corridors, were not enough, the nurses said it would be difficult for them to take on the extra burden.
  • The attendance at the evening OPDs was very thin as the public was not aware of the facility .This was evident from the fact that while 339 patients in Medicine,203 in Paediatrics, 270 in Eye,172 in Gynaecology and 225 in ENT attended the morning OPD today.



Alert petrol station staff foil robbery bid
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 2
Five youths attempted to loot a petrol station in Sector 5 here around 1 am today. But for the presence of mind of employees the miscreants would have been successful in their attempt.

According to information available, five youths, Bony, Jayant Kaushal, Varinder Rana, Pradeep Kumar and Rahul, came to Coco Petrol Station in Sector 5 on two scooters (HR-03D- 9507 and HR-61B- 6604(T)) around 1 am. Bony and Jayant Kaushal were riding scooter no. HR-03D- 9507, other three were on the second scooter.

The accused pretended to be customers and got fuel worth Rs 15 and Rs 10 each filled in the two scooters. While the petrol was filled by Suresh, cashier Kuldeep Kumar took money from them. While the latter was putting the money in his bag, the accused tried to snatch the bag, which contained a sum of about Rs 1,500.

The latter immediately raised an alarm. Other employees, carrying lathis and stones, immediately rushed to his rescue and tried to nab the accused. In the process, the scooter (HR-03D-9507) skidded and both Bony and Jayant were nabbed. The other three managed to escape.

The police was informed. Personnel at all nakas at various entry and exit points in the township were alerted and the PCR vehicles were pressed into action. By the morning, the two accused who were nabbed by the petrol station staff had spilled the beans and revealed that they were staying as tenants in H No. 929 in Sector 9 here.

Meanwhile, the police launched a massive manhunt and two-wheeler drivers in the entire township were checked. Over 100 persons were also challaned for various traffic violations during this exercise. The police was later able to arrest the remaining three accused.

The Superintendent of Police, Mr Ranbir Singh Sharma, said two of the accused, Varinder Rana and Bony, were also involved in some other cases of robbery. He appreciated the efforts of the petrol station staff.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that complying with the earlier orders of local police chief about keeping armed security at petrol stations, the management of the Coco Petrol Station has decided to hire security and apply for an arms licence.



Desires, dejection — ‘Women in Black’ bares all
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Love is not always such a pleasant feeling. More often than not, it comes shrouded with pain and anguish and all those negative emotions worth the name. In her sensitive production “Women in Black” writer Bubbles Sabharwal has sought to underline the contradictions of life, thought and action. The production was sponsored by The Tribune and presented by the Durga Das Foundation and Spice Telecom.

A fairly absorbing monologue that did weight heavy upon the senses at times, Women in Black was essentially a contemporary theatre production that used both Hindi and English languages as elements of narration. Interestingly, the original work is thoroughly in English, but it has been adapted by the actress to suit the needs of a modern audience and that of the director Arvind Gaur.

And in the entire set up, Hindi seemed to set the tone where English began to sound a bit too out of place. The story develops between a small town mother, who has accepted a second woman in her man’s life and Shivani, the big town daughter who seeks to define her life and its purpose from her own aggressive perspective. She grows hating her mother for putting up a silent face, despite the pain her husband begets for her. She calls her weak, for all purposes, and chooses to break away from her shadow.

As the monologue matures, the daughter lands in Delhi, which overshadows her entire being with its rawness — of life, emotion and love. At work, she falls for her boss, who is a married man, with a child. The script strikes the audience at this point in the production where the daughter finds herself becoming the second woman, whom she had hated so sacredly all her life. Now she has to start relocating her priorities. She also has to decide what the limits of strength are. Caught between her mother’s psyche and her own conflict, the daughter’s state of mind is portrayed well by Bubbles, who acts out raw emotions. The telephone set was the only constant in the production, in which all the other equations kept changing.

Playing mother and daughter, Bubbles finally brings the story to the point of decision, where the lives of the two characters start running parallely to one another. Good dramatics, gripping dialogues and powerful direction makes the story grow, although there were patches of emptiness in the performance. The audience could not help comparing Bubbles with her first cousin Lushin Dubey, who had recently staged a beautiful production in which she used a Rajasthani folk tale along side Medea to tell the tale of woman’s subjection and her redemption.

Although Bubbles could not hold the audience much at the level of an actress, she made a strong point as a writer, describing two women who fight the same fears at respective levels. In the play, black is used extensively. It is reflected as the colour of dejection and death — the colour which mother and daughter detest with all their heart, but happen to live with.



Sumo carrying Tribune staff hit; 4 injured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
Four persons were injured, one seriously, when a Tata Sumo vehicle bringing employees of The Tribune to office was hit by a speeding bus near the marble market late here today.

The driver of the Sumo, Supinder Singh, who was seriously injured in the accident, was referred to the PGI by doctors of the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital. Ram Parkash, Shiv Kumar and Harvinder, men of the binding section of The Tribune, who were the others who got hurt, were admitted to the GMCH. While one person was discharged soon, the condition of his colleagues is said to be stable.

The Tata Sumo, a private taxi hired on contract, was ferrying the night-shift staff from Sector 61 when the PTL bus coming from the opposite side collided head-on with it. The impact of the collision smashed the face of the Sumo. The driver of the bus fled from there.

Each day, this Sumo ferries at least nine night-shift employees of The Tribune. Today, it had picked up four such employees and was on its way to pick up others when the accident happened.



Model Village lends new dimension
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
“It is amazing”. 

“It is wonderful.”

“I have never seen something like this before.”

“It is an out of this world experience”

These are some of the comments made during an interaction with TNS here today by rural visitors from all over the region to the CII Model Village put up by the CII as a part of its four-day Agro Tech 2002 which concludes here tomorrow.

Set up at a considerable cost in response to persistent criticism that Agro Tech did not have much to offer for the common villagers at its mega show, the Model Village has proved to be a runaway hit. It is clear that it has given a whole new dimension to what is billed as India’s premier biennial agro technology fair.

The brainchild of Mr Anand G. Mahindra, Vice President CII and MD Mahindra and Mahindra and Mr S.K. Bijlani, Chairman of the CII(North) and Mr I.S. Paul, past chairman Chandigarh council of the CII, the Model Village has been drawing ruralites from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal Pradesh. What they see seems to have impressed them all.

For Jang Singh, Gurjant Singh, Jagdeep Singh, Harpal Singh and Naib Singh from Samana in Patiala district, it has been the experience of a life time. “We have never seen a mela like this before. We could never imagine that so much could be done to improve the life in the villages without spending much”.

Rampal and Phool Singh have come all the way from Muzzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh along with a contingent of farmers headed by Mr Mohinder Singh Tikait, the BKU leader.

Harpal Kaur, Paramjit Kaur and Surinder Kaur form part of a group which has come from village Bhamadli near Ludhiana. They were amazed to see the demonstration of a solar-powered water pump.

Nawal Singh from Gurgaon was busy listening to speakers at the Kisan Ghosthi as he puffed at his hookah in the mild wintery sunshine. He nodded his head in approval when asked about if he liked the village.



Adopt new methods, farmers told
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
Big industrial houses should be asked to set up food processing units in the rural areas which will provide job opportunities to the rural youth and check rural influx to the urban areas the said former Vice-Chancellor of PAU, Dr G S Kalkat.

Participating in the Kisan Goshti at its Model Village on “Future trends in agriculture”, he lamented farmers were still adhering to traditional crops. Dr Kalkat hoped the government would extend grants to universities to develop new equipments for farmers. He also urged farmers to acquaint themselves with the latest technique and adopt it.

Dr G.S. Nanda, Director Research, PAU, Ludhiana, said the government should give grants to those farmers who were ready to leave traditional crops and start sowing alternative crops.

Dr Amarjeet Singh of NABARD said efforts to drop traditional crops had been taken very late. This initiative should have been started three decade ago. Mr M.S. Dosanjh, a farmer, said the WTO was a necessary evil in the present scenario. India should meet the challenge posed by the WTO and emerge stronger.

At the Goshti on dairy farming, Mr Randhir Singh Rode, a dairy farmer, said the price of milk should be fixed. Prof R.S. Yadav of Haryana Agriculture University, Hisar, suggested that dairy farmers should develop and sell milk products instead of raw milk, adding value to their product.

Dr Jagdish Markande of the NDRI, Karnal, said it was a bitter truth that dairy owners were not getting remunerative price for their products. It was ironical that a bottle of mineral water costs Rs 10, while milk was being sold at Rs 8-9.

Groups of farmers from UP, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to participated in the Gosthi.



India can play vital role in biotechnology’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
“We are fighting an uphill battle when it comes to biotechnology” said Mr Ewald Wermuth, Ambassador, Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary, Representative of The Netherlands to the UN for Food and Agriculture, addressing the conference on “Innovation in Agriculture” at the ongoing Agro Tech 2002 today.

“Biotechnology needs to be judged through its contribution to sustainability”, he said, describing it as a toolbox for agriculture. What was critical, though, was public acceptance.

“We should move towards creating corridors of excellence to give India a role in the development of biotechnology” said Dr. Villoo Morawala, CEO, Avestha Gengraine Technologies. “All we need is government will, support and the public working in unison.” Agreeing that “Public and private initiative can play a vital role in the promotion and acceptability of biotechnology”, Dr Arvind Kapur, MD, Nunhems Seeds Pvt. Ltd. described the various opportunities available for public private partnerships in biotechnology. Stressing that biotechnology is a basic need in today’s world, Dr Kapur said: “Biotechnology cannot stand alone. Germplasm, breeding and biotechnology go hand-in-hand. The benefits to the economy, production, and environment are protection against pests, plant protection, better yield etc. Biotechnology is accurate, predictable, fast, safe and sustainable.”

“Biotech education is imperative for good quality products”, said Dr Rommert van den Bos, Director, International Education, Wageningen University, The Netherlands. Mr Bos highlighted the importance of web based biotech education, mainly because students have great difficulty in learning how design experimental procedures for molecular biology.

“The advancement of agri science has ensured that productivity keeps up with the population growth”, said Mr Prakash Apte, MD, Syngenta, India Ltd. “Biotechnology has given us an opportunity to improve the quality of food, adequate productivity and above all it is not incremental to the environment and eco balance.”

“We have the technology to address world issues” said Mr Douglas Campbell, president & CEO, Campbell Agri Business Strategists Inc. Canada. Talking about shared experiences in grains, Mr Campbell said that the main goals of CABSI are value addition for producers, marketing channels, processors and end users.

“Trends, environment and technology are the main key issues in food processing”, said Mr HSM de Vries, Director, Strategy and Commercial Affairs ATO BV, The Netherlands. “As far as food concepts are concerned we have to understand the preferences of our customers” he added.

Mr S Sivakumar, CEO (Agribusiness), ITC Ltd., observed that “business concerns itself with value creation and innovation. The two main aspects of value creation are managing global demand, chains and managing the Indian supply chain”, he said, speaking on agri commodity exports and shared experiences of ITC.

“Our top priority is customer satisfaction,” said Mr Rinus Minkjan, Director R&D, Indigo Process Systems BV, The Netherlands. Mr Minkjan talked about the production of food chips and the advantages of osmotic drying and vacuum frying, “We supply equipment and technology”, he said.



Reduce dependence on MSP, Kang tells farmers
Tribune News Service

Folk dancers of Rajasthan perform at model village at Agro-Tech, 2002, in Chandigarh on Monday.
Folk dancers of Rajasthan perform at model village at Agro-Tech, 2002, in Chandigarh on Monday. — Photo Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, December 2
The Punjab Government plans to set up an “adarsh gram” or model village in each of the 140 blocks in the state to demonstrate the state-of-the-art trends in dairy farming, animal husbandry and fisheries. This was stated by Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Dairy, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Sports, Punjab, at ‘kisan goshti’ at the CII’s model village, coinciding with Agro-Tech, 2002, here today.

Mr Kang urged a large gathering of farmers from Punjab attending the goshti to look at alternative rural activities to reduce their dependence on the minimum support prices (MSP) fixed by the Centre for their produce.

The minister, who was on a visit to model village, joined the ‘kisan goshti’ to answer the queries of the farmers on a variety of issues ranging from power connections for dairy farmers to various initiatives that the government was taking to promote diversified rural income generation activities.

While animal husbandry and pisciculture both held tremendous potential for the Punjab farmer, the minister felt that dairy farming as an additional activity required the minimum infrastructure and investment. However, what was needed was modern technology to ensure premium quality of both the animals and the output, he said. Towards this end, the ‘adarsh grams’, which had been adopted by the government would demonstrate “exemplary service” right from demonstrating ways to maintain healthy animal stock to adding value to the end product. The villages had already been identified and training programmes for unemployed rural youth were already underway, he said. Facilitation of loans was also being done, he said. The project takes off in January, 2003.

Fairs like Agro-Tech, 2002, served as awareness builders, providing a window to the immense possibilities, and opportunities in agriculture” said Mr Kang. Commenting on the vast array of technologies on display, he said it was necessary for the Central Government to offer special schemes and subsidies to enable rural folk to avail themselves of these, to their advantage and the progress and prosperity of the nation at large.



Kiryana shops, retail chains should coexist’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
Kiryana shops will have to make way for modern food retail chains, which draw an investment of around Rs 2,50,000 crore in the world, to give boost to the much-needed food processing industry which can give higher margin to the farmer and employment across the board.

This was stated today at a conference on “Organised food services in India — the new revolution” held here as part of the biennial Agro-Tech.

With the scope for organised modern food chains being immense, which require a massive investment, the government should allow foreign direct investment in the sector as in the case of even the most protected sector of the print media, Managing Director of the Subhiksha Trading Services Private Limited, Mr R. Subramanian, said in his keynote address.

The conference was inaugurated by Union Food Processing Secretary Pratibha Karan who said kiryana shops and modern food outlets had to coexist.

Ms Karan said the food processing industry could prove to be a saviour of the Indian agriculture sector which had now started producing surplus. However, in the absence of proper management of food products, the country had a very high percentage of wastage.

The Union Secretary said the conference would guide the government on policy directions to boost the food processing industry.

She said this industry had a potential of growing faster than the required gross domestic product (GDP) of 8 per cent.

Mr Subramanian said with the coming up of retail food chains, small operators would be innovative as the duplication of having to set up separate infrastructure would not be there.

He said these chains could save cost to the consumer and with backward linkages, these could also help increase the margin of the farmer by helping them grow as per specification and reduce wastage.

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Emeritus Scientist, Mr Akshey Gupta, presented a policy paper on “Agriculture-industry interface: value added farm products.” The report was unveiled by the Union Secretary.

Mr Gupta said in the absence of value addition to wheat, rice, fish and fruit, the margin of farmer had been declining constantly.

He said wheat could have as many as 80 byproducts to save wastage and give better returns to the farmer and the technology was locked up in laboratories for the purpose. He said the technology could be used with a little alteration.

Mr Gupta said setting up clusters of processors, town and village enterprises developed by China for developing co-products, wheat and rice boards with participation from stakeholders could give a boost to value addition activity in the country.

Gokul Patanaik, Chairman, Food and Agriculture, sub-committee, CII, Northern region, made a welcome address while introducing the subject of the conference.



Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
Mr K.J. Davasia, Executive Director and President, Farm Equipment Sector, Mahindra and Mahindra, today launched “Mahindra 575 DI Sarpanch” tractor at Agro Tech, 2002. The new model has a more comfortable seat for the driver and upgraded engine.


PWD turns blind eye to 'killer' divider
Bipin Bhardwaj

Zirakpur, December 2
A road divider without any light reflector on it on the busy Chandigarh-Ambala highway has become a death trap for the past many years, courtesy the Building and Roads (BR) wing of the Punjab Public Works Department (PPWD) for turning a blind eye towards this ‘‘killer’’ obstacle that has left a number of motorists injured so far and leaving others on the mercy of God.

Speeding vehicles that come from Ambala and Delhi sides often ram into the divider. A number of motorists have met with accidents at this particular spot in the past a couple of years.

Three accidents, involving a Himachal Roadways bus, a Maruti car and a scooter which rammed into the road divider, left eight persons injured in last 24 hours

Same is the case with other road dividers constructed by the department on the Chandigarh-Ambala and the Zirakpur-Patiala highways apart from another road divider on the highway near Modern Dhaba in Dera Bassi. Absence of light reflectors on these dividers and the defunct street lights have further compounded the problem.

Though the accident rate on these ‘‘killer’’ spots, in Zirakpur, Dera Bassi and Lalru, has increased manifold in previous two years yet the authorities have hardly taken any initiative to get rid of the problem.

The problem had also been highlighted by the Chandigarh Tribune some months ago but it seemed that the authorities were yet to take any note of it as the problem still persisted.

On its way to Shimla, a Himachal Roadways bus (HP-12-4103), collided with the road divider and lost control, uprooting three street light poles. It then overturned leaving a dozen of its passengers injured.

Two car occupants had a narrow escape, when the car in which they were travelling rammed into the same divider late last night.

There are no reflectors and floodlights to make the divider properly visible to the motorists from a distance nor have there been installed any traffic lights (blinking) on the road dividers to warn the motorists.

Mr Yadvinder Sharma, a resident of Lohgarh village, complained that the divider on the busy highway in Zirakpur had caused a number of fatal accidents in last month only. Over a dozen motorists met with accidents here as their vehicles collided with the divider during night.

"We along with the employees of the HDFC Bank, had put up a reflector, so that it would be visible to the motorists during night," said Mr Narinder Sharma, a former sarpanch of Lohgarh village.

The PPWD authorities, however, clarified that the issue of installing a light reflector with maximum illumination was under consideration. The authorities added that new light reflector would be installed in a day or two.



Helmets for women riders: drive soon
Tribune News Service


  • Mr Hardeep Singh, a member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), in a press note issued here today, has said that the Sikh community here will protest against the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court “forcing Sikh women to wear helmets”.

  • He says that the court orders were found to be difficult to implement earlier as well, so, the matter should be resolved once and for all. He said the court should reconsider its order in case of Sikh women.

  • The SGPC member also said, in case insurance policies were amended in the wake of the orders, it would be considered an exploitation of the Sikhs and a move to destroy the Sikh culture.

Chandigarh, December 2
Following direction from the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Chandigarh police is planning to penalise women who drive two-wheelers without wearing helmets. Women riding pillion will also have to wear helmets.

The date on which the drive is to begin is still undecided. An official said, last time, when such a drive had been launched, a number of religious organisations had risen up in protest, following which, the drive had to be discontinued. Officials say that, since the drive is likely to attract protest, the launch date will be finalised in consulation with officials of the Chandigarh Administration.

In the case Namit Kumar versus the Chandigarh Administration, on November 15, Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar had said that an order in this regard pronounced on July 9, 1998, must be followed strictly. The order had made the wearing of helmets compulsory for drivers of two-wheelers and pillion riders. Persons wearing turbans had, however, been exempted from wearing helmets.

The Punjab police has already launched a drive to issue traffic tickets to women caught driving and pillion riding bare-head. An official said women wearing turbans (dastar) would be exempted from paying the fine. At the November 15 hearing, police officials of Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab told to implement the orders.

The Inspector General of Police here, Mr B.S. Bassi, when contacted, said: “We have been taking an appropriate action.”

Meanwhile, the Chandigarh Administration is to launch a special drive to penalise drivers of trucks on which registration numbers are found to have been written illegibly or not at all. A police official said it had been seen in the past that truck involved in road accidents did not bear registration numbers.



Search on for new wildlife rescue centre
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 2
The Wildlife Department is now on the lookout for creating a new rescue centre for wildlife near here, following the closure of the centre at Chandi Mandir. The Army authorities, which had earlier allocated land for the purpose, had demanded this land back.

Well-placed sources in the Wildlife Department, Haryana, informed TNS that the Army authorities had earlier asked the department to close this centre and hand over 20 acres of land within the Chandi Mandir cantonment area. Though no reasons have been cited for the same, sources say that security concerns among army authorities — because of an opening of the centre in forests near the Army establishment — had reportedly led to this demand.

The Wildlife Department has now closed down the centre and work to remove the wire enclosures around this defence land is expected to begin, as soon as a new site for setting up a rescue centre is identified. Sources in the Wildlife Department say that though they have not yet decided on the exact location, the rescue centre would come up in the Bir Shikargah forest area to treat injured and sick animals, before releasing them in the forests.

It may be noted that that the Army authorities in Chandi Mandir had themselves offered about 20 acres of land within the cantonment area for setting up a deer park way back in the year 1986. After a nod was received from Union Ministry of Environment, Wildlife Department, Haryana, had set up Chandi Mandir Deer Lake Garden here.

When the Deer Park was initially set up, a large number of spotted deer, gorals, sambar , black bucks, barking deer, rabbits and geese were kept here. However, this deer park was converted into a rescue centre for animals last year after objections were raised by the Central Zoo Authority.

It is learnt that a technical committee of Central Zoo Authority had visited the deer park in the year 1999. They had observed that this park was accessible only to the families of those staying within the Army area. Thus the committee declined to give recognition to this deer park on the condition that it was not open to general public, as is mandatory for any zoo or animal park. It, however, recommended that the park be converted into a rescue centre.

Following these directions by Central Zoo Authority, wildlife officials were forced to close the park and release animals-spotted deer, barking deer, gorals, sambars, black bucks and other animals into the forests. Most of the geese kept here were handed over to a Chandigarh-based NGO working in the field of animal welfare.



Jain dares Ambika Soni
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
A former BJP MP, Mr Satya Pal Jain, whom the Congress has accused of land grab in Dera Bassi, today dared Political Adviser to Sonia Gandhi, Ambika Soni, and local MP Pawan Bansal to get an inquiry done through the CBI, Vigilance Department, of the Congress government in Punjab or any other agency.

Mr Jain in a statement said he had nothing to do either with the sale or purchase of the DAV society land in Dera Bassi.

Mr Jain challenged the Congress leaders to have a public debate in front of an independent body like Press Club on the issue of two Congress MPs propriety in getting land for Heritage Society to set up Delhi Pubic School.

Terming allegations of land grab as “baseless”, he said the Congress leaders were trying to sidetrack the issue of “impropriety” of party MPs.

Mr Jain said the land with which his name had being associated had been sold in 1995 at a time when Mr Bansal the MP.



Fast to seek all-woman rehri market
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 2
Women activists of the local unit of the Nationalist Congress Party today went on fast in Sector 17 to press for the acceptance of the demand of an all-woman rehri market at Dhanas village.

A site for the rehri market consisting of 120 rehris for women was earmarked in Dhanas in 1991. However, the UT Enforcement Wing had removed the rehris on October 18, 2001. This was claimed by Mr Sham Lal Kanoujia of the unit in a release issued here today.

Among others who went on fast were Ms Paramjit Kaur Dhillon, president of the Nationalist Mahila Congress, and Ms Asha Gupta, secretary of the unit and president of the Istri Samajak Sudhar Sabha.

The president of the local unit of the NCP, Mr Gurbachan Singh, also participated in the fast. The unit has threatened that if the matter of rehri market was not solved immediately, the women wing of the party will start a “jail-bharo andolan”.



Welfare of airmen’s families, her mission

Chandigarh, December 2
Shonali Mishra catches up with Mrs Santosh Prasher, President of the Air Force Wives Welfare Association at 3 BRD, AF, Chandigarh.

“My hobby is social work,” says Mrs Santosh Prasher.

Now, not many would immediately speak of social welfare as their hobby. Gardening? Yes. Reading? Maybe. But social welfare? That takes real commitment and a lot of zeal to be doing this everyday — 365 days a year. And this lady has all that and more.

Meeting her in the office of the Air Force Wives Welfare Association President one has to only see the bustle of activity to realise how busy she keeps herself. And looking after the welfare of over 2,500 airmen’s families and 700 civilian’s families is no mean task.

“I have been working actively for the AFWWA for the past 10 years as a secretary or in other capacities till our posting to Chandigarh.” Her husband is Air Cmde SB Prasher, Air Officer Commanding (AOC), 3 BRD.

Being a part of the big “joint family” of the Air Force for the past 29 years, she is ideally placed to understand and solve the problems of thousands of families.

The AFWWA at 3 BRD, Chandigarh, is a multifarious organisation that has many activities under its umbrella. Painting, tailoring, dance, typing and computer schools are but a few. A beauty parlour is run at discounted rates with excellent standards and ladies are encouraged to open their own establishments on completion of training, which is of the highest standards. Through a tie-up with Panjab University, the trainees receive certificates on completion of the computer courses. Thrift shops are run on a no-profit no-loss basis making just enough to fund welfare activities.

A bottling plant makes soft drinks as subsidised rates. Also functioning are a gift shop and a garment shop. The AFWWA pays special attention to the needs of the children who attend the Air Force School. Not only are uniforms made available at very subsidised rates, but special care is also taken of the needy children, whose fees are waived off by the AFWWA President. “Girl students are given top priority,” she adds with a gentle laugh.

Mrs Santosh Prasher, a B.Sc., B.Ed. from Chandigarh, believes that “a happily home will lead to a more productive spouse thus increase productivity and efficiency of the IAF as a whole!” No truer words were spoken! She believes in a policy of never refusing help and actively counsels families with problems. In fact she even calls in professional counsellers when required. No one is sent back unhappy. “Any problem that you can can’t share with others, come share it with us, we will try our best to solve it for you”. With her you are never alone.

In just over a year of taking over as the local AFWWA President, she has already conducted a cancer detection camp, a “well-woman clinic”, “healthy baby show”, dental and general check-up camps, etc. AFWWA meetings are held once a month.

Despite being the mother of three, two girls and a boy, one of them in the USA, she finds time to look after so many others as her own children. She believes in moving along in a progressive world.

But what comes out admirably is her zeal to improve the quality of lives of thousands. Frank and forthcoming, the first lady of 3 BRD just wants families of Air Force personnel to be happy and progressive.

“The AFWWA at Chandigarh comes under the umbrella of the Regional AFWWA at Headquarters, Maintenance Command, Nagpur,” she explains. So in cases when help to be given to a needy person, say in case of an extreme emergency, crosses a large amount, the money is procured from AFWWA Regional/AFWWA Central at Delhi. Smaller amounts are settled at the local level, she adds. Shonali Misra



He saved Chhamb in 1971 war

PAKISTAN gave us a tough time in the Chhamb-Jaurian sector of Jammu both in 1965 and 1971 war because of our poor intelligence.

In the 1971 war, we were under the impression that Pakistan had only one brigade earmarked for the Chhamb-Jaurian sector, whereas during the operations, we discovered that there were five brigade under the Pak 23 Infantry Division operating against us.

Pakistan started its offensive on the night of December 3. After a fierce battle in the Chhamb sector, in which both sides suffered heavy casualties, we had to withdraw to the east of Manawar Tawi on the night of December 6. The enemy then started its operations east of the Tawi in a bid to capture Akhnoor. And it was on the night of December 9 that the enemy launched a determined attack to dislodge us from east of the Tawi. Reacting to this, the GOC of our division started considering the withdrawal of our two brigades to the depth positions.

It was at this time that the late Lt-Gen Sartaj Singh, the then GOC 15 Corps, flew into the sector, rejected the plan of withdrawal, assumed control of the sector, reorganised the forces and ordered a counter-attack, which met with success. Thus General Sartaj Singh saved the honour of the country.

General Sartaj Singh, known to be one of the most determined field commanders of his time, retired as GOC-in-C Southern Command in 1974 and passed away on April 23, 1998.

Welfare of ex-servicemen

“Is enough being done for the welfare of ex-servicemen in this region?” This was the question that the Western Army Commander Lt-Gen S. Mehta asked this writer in an informal meeting last week.

The territorial jurisdiction of the Western Command is spread over an area, which contributes the maximum number of manpower to the soldiering community. This results in more soldiers turning ex-servicemen every year. And it is their morale that reflects on the morale of the serving soldiers.

General Mehta’s new experiment of starting Helpline for the ex-servicemen, their widows and dependents has met with unimaginable success. As the awareness about this service is increasing, more and more ex-servicemen are coming to the Helpline office or contacting it on telephone from all over the region.

When a retired officer who wanted to put in his claim for the monetary grant for the AVSM, which he got in 1964 but for which he did not have the gazette notification, contacted this writer, he was advised to contact the Helpline. The Helpline, it is expected, will obtain the gazette notification number for him.

When asked how would the Helpline cope with the work, which is bound to increase manifold in another few months, General Mehta’s answer was: “There are plans for further expansion. This service will be institutionalised and the needy ex-servicemen will always be helped”.

Army-sponsored tour

For the first time, a group of women from Kashmir valley visited Delhi, Agra, Gulbarga, Bangalore and Mumbai as part of an Army-sponsored tour called “Desh Sampark”.

These 20 women from Uri In Baramulla district between the age of 18-28 were received at the Army House, New Delhi, by Ms Roopa Padmanabhan, president of the Army Wives Welfare Association. A variety programme put up by this group of women was highly appreciated.

South tours from remote areas should be arranged more frequently to create awareness among people of these areas.

Defence land

The Defence Estates Department has over 17 lakh acres in 62 cantomnents and several other places in the country. Of this, about 9000 acres is under encroachment.

Expressing concern about it, the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, said the other day that a detailed study of the encroached land should be carried out expeditiously and the defence land should be used for the purpose it was acquired for.

Surprisingly, almost all defence land acquired for camping grounds during the British regime has been usurped by maverick politicians and their confidants. Study or no study, who will get this land vacated?

While laying the foundation stone of the new complex of the Directorate General Defence Estates (DEDE) in New Delhi, Mr Fernandes said that the proposed Cantonment Act was likely to be passed in the winter session of Parliament. Incidentally, the new Act will replace the outmoded Cantonment Act of 1924.

— Pritam Bhullar



Gallantry awardees flay Health Ministry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
The President’s Police Gallantry Awardees Association at its annual general body meeting has condemned the delay in issue of notification by the Health Ministry regarding grant of free medical treatment to the President’s Gallantry Awardees and their families in AIIMS, the PGI and other Central Government hospitals as announced by the previous Health Minister, Dr C.P. Thakur, in July, 2002, during the convention of Police Gallantry Awardees at Patna.

The association in press release said it hoped that Mr Shatrughan Sinha will soon issue the necessary orders on the subject. The association also called upon the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana to redesignate the Department of Defence Services Welfare as the Department of Welfare of Paramilitary and Police Forces.

Already the Director of defence welfare of their states have announced that henceforth they would look after the welfare of Army, Navy and Air Force personnel only. Sacrifices of soldiers of BSF, ITBP, CRPF and Assam Rifles guarding the borders and fighting insurgency to shoulder with Army is no less than that of defence forces.

The association also hoped that the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court will issue directions to the states that martyrs, disabled and gallant soldiers of all security forces be treated alike and given same respect and benefits that were given to the defence forces.

Discrimination of any kind is not only bad in law, it affects the moral of soldiers fighting for a common cause.

Meanwhile, the following were elected as office-bearers of the all-India governing body of the association: president — Mr S.K. Madan; vice-president — Mr Surjit Singh; general secretary — Mr D.S. Romana; and treasurer — Mr S.P.S. Basra. Members of the executive — Mr S.S. Bhullar, Mr B.S. Randhawa, Mr S.S. Sohal, Mr N.N. Mishra, Mr Bishamber Nath, Mr P.C. Joshi, Mr H.R. Chaudary and Mr Sukhchain Singh.



Premises of 2 firms raided
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
The Economic Offences Wing today raided the premises of Amway India Enterprises and Japan Life India, multi-level marketing companies, and seized documents.

The Chandigarh Administration said it had been informed by the Reserve Bank of India that 76 non banking finance companies (NBFCs) in category A, 111 NBFCs in category B and two NBFCs in category C cannot transact business of non-banking financial institution. The registration of these companies has been rejected by the RBI. Earlier the raids were conducted on three multi-level marketing companies, Cossests in Sector 26, Onlinejob.com in Sector 9 and Best Internet Services in Sector 34.



Sarpanch killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Lalru, December 2
Mr Amarjit Singh (35), sarpanch of Dheremajra, was killed when a car (HR-51-3030) hit the motor cycle he was riding on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway late last night.

He was taken to the Civil Hospital, Dera Bassi, but doctors referred him to the PGI, Chandigarh. He died on the way to the PGI.

A case against the car driver has been registered at Lalru police station.

In another incident, three members of a family were seriously injured when the car in which they were travelling collided with a Sumo on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway, near Lohgarh village, this morning.

The injured have been identified as Manjot Kaur, Ramandeep Kaur and Hargaurav. They have been admitted to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh.

A case has been registered at Dera Bassi police station in this regard.



Woman suffers 60 pc burns
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, December 2
A 21-year resident of Mataur village was burnt this morning while she was working in the kitchen. She has been admitted to the PGI with 60 per cent burns.

According to information provided by the police, the victim, Madhu Rani, was heating milk for her daughters when her sari caught fire from the stove.

Madhu’s husband, Jaspal, works as a watchman in a showroom in Phase IX, and, according to the police, there seems to be no foul play in the incident. ‘‘On the face of it, this seems to be an accident as all inquries from the neighbours have revealed that the couple was living happily together and enjoyed a good relationship with each other’s families”, said the policeman investigating the matter.



Charas worth lakhs seized
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 2
The police has recovered charas worth several lakh of rupees from two residents of Kalka in separate incidents. Over 260 gm of the narcotic substance , a weighing scale and weights of 20 gm have been seized in one case and another 180 gm from a baba there.

According to information available, the police had received information about Narendra, alias Babloo, a resident of Upper Mohalla in Kalka, that he was dealing in narcotics. A police team under the leadership of DSP Desh Bandhu and ASI Amar Singh raided the residence of the accused and nabbed him.

The police says that the accused was selling the drug to customers after making pouches of 20 gm each. Narendra has been booked under different sections of the NDPS Act. The police says that the drug is valued at over Rs 2.5 lakh.

In another incident in Kalka, the police has recovered 180 gm of charas from Naga Baba Rajpuri, near Naina Devi. The police had searched the "baba" and seized the drug worth over Rs 1.5 lakh from him.


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